One of the most challenging and costly steps in implementing a smart grid is integrating new software applications from multiple vendors, including meter data management systems, automated meter infrastructures, load control management systems, and e-portals. These systems must be able to work seamlessly with each other, as well as with utility legacy systems to continue to deliver expected results.
West Monroe Partners’ experience with the challenges of smart grid system integration prompted us to look for an easier and less costly way to deliver the benefits of new technologies—without necessarily repeating the same integration steps over and over. From this exploration, we developed the Grid Integration Platform, or GrIP™. This platform provides a fully integrated platform for single utility or multi-utility smart grid applications by pre-building working interfaces among the included partner applications.
West Monroe GrIP™ can pre-integrate any number of vendor systems with pre-built interfaces that are based on the IEC Common Information Model (CIM) standards, especially the 61968 series for Distribution Management and the 61970 CIM series. These NIST smart grid standards provide data formats, technical implementation patterns, and interfaces that we encourage our vendor partners to utilize. IEC also provides background to the concepts of services and messaging. GrIP™ employs Microsoft BizTalk 2010 and is compatible with other Microsoft enterprise solutions within its Smart Energy Reference Architecture. The Microsoft BizTalk platform is scalable for very large utilities and cost effective for smaller utilities.
Our approach to using the NIST CIM standards and BizTalk goes beyond the IEC definitions, which essentially create an API and point-to-point integration. Instead, GrIP™ creates an architecture that leverages these standards into a useful integration platform that can decrease system integration risk and the ongoing expenses associated with creating many point-to-point interfaces.
Above the message and contract level, GrIP™ promotes the development of a library of services and information flows that support utility business processes. These discrete services can be combined and routed for specific application needs and allow utilities to quickly implement an integrated set of services from multiple applications or build custom-integration processes. As GrIP™ is expanded to more vendor partners and more interfaces, the service catalog will grow more robust and more flexible.
GrIP™ pre-integrated solutions are reliable and flexible. For mid-sized and smaller utilities, the process is fast and scalable and helps them realize the benefits of smart grid applications without the long-term development and design time. The GrIP™ architecture supports both a Cloud and on-premise deployment depending on client need. While others in the marketplace offer pre-packaged sets of point-to-point proprietary solutions, GrIP™ offers the ability to choose the best applications for their particular needs, yet still receive the benefits of a bundled set of applications.
Please contact Jack Winter
about GrIP™ as you pursue current or future smart grid application integration.